Maryland Divorce Attorneys
Divorce is one of the most stressful events in life, especially when a couple has children, or when only one partner wants the marriage to end. Regardless of whether a couple mutually decides to divorce, each spouse should seek legal counsel to protect their interests.
Thienel & Lusk, LLC, provides representation in Maryland divorce cases, helping our clients achieve the best outcome possible. We handle all divorce cases with discretion and sensitivity, and we work diligently to resolve disputes and minimize stress for all parties involved. If you need to talk to a Maryland divorce attorney, call the offices of Thienel & Lusk, LLC, at (443) 535-9715.
Maryland Divorce Laws
When a couple has children, Maryland courts will not grant a divorce until the couple has lived apart, with no sexual contact, for at least 12 months. However, there are certain circumstances where that 12-month waiting period to file a complaint for absolute divorce does not apply.
Maryland’s grounds for divorce, and waiting periods, are:
- Adultery – This is a “fault” ground for divorce, meaning a divorce can be filed without a waiting period if there is sufficient evidence of adultery, including testimony from a third party. The spouse pursuing the divorce must prove that the adulterer had “disposition” and “opportunity” for sex outside the marriage. Disposition could refer to eyewitness accounts of one spouse engaging in physical affection with a person. Opportunity could refer to proof that a spouse routinely checked into a hotel room for an overnight stay with another person.The grounds for divorce must occur in the state of Maryland. So, if one spouse commits adultery only outside of Maryland, the other spouse would be unable to file for divorce on grounds of adultery. And if, during the 12-month period of separation, one spouse should engage in sexual relations with someone else, that would be considered adultery and the other spouse could then file without delay for divorce based on adultery.
- Desertion – The court recognizes two types of desertion: actual desertion, which is when one spouse abandons the other without cause, and constructive desertion, which is when one spouse leaves the marital home because of the other spouse’s intolerable conduct. While desertion is considered a fault ground, the couple nevertheless must live apart for 12 months before a divorce can be granted. As a fault ground, however, desertion may influence the court’s decisions regarding child custody.
- Separation – Either spouse may file for divorce after a couple has lived apart for 12 months without sexual contact between the spouses.
- Mutual consent – A couple that has no minor children together and resolved alimony and property division issues, may mutually petition the court for an immediate divorce.
- Cruelty – Cruelty generally means physical abuse by one spouse that endangers the safety of the other spouse or children. There is no waiting period for divorce on the grounds of cruelty.
- Excessively vicious conduct – A spouse may file for divorce without a waiting period on grounds of excessively vicious conduct, which means extreme acts of violence against a spouse or child.
- Conviction of a crime – If one spouse has been convicted of a crime and sentenced to three years or more in jail, the other spouse may file for divorce after the offending spouse has been incarcerated for 12 months.
- Insanity – If one spouse has been institutionalized for at least three years due to insanity, and at least two psychiatric doctors testify that the condition is incurable, the other spouse may file for divorce after the couple has lived separately for 12 months.
Division of Property
A couple may be able to reach agreement on how they will divide marital property. If not, the court will distribute the marital property equitably under the state’s Marital Property Act. However, that does not mean each spouse is entitled to, or will receive 50 percent of marital property in a divorce.
When determining how to distribute marital property, the court considers many factors, including:
- Each partner’s monetary and non-monetary contributions to the household and family
- The financial circumstances of each spouse
- The length of the marriage
- The age and health of each spouse
- The facts that contributed to the estrangement of each spouse.
Property owned independently before marriage is not subject to distribution in a divorce, unless the couple commingled individual property with marital property or had a legal agreement to join ownership (such as title in both names) of that property during their marriage.
The Challenges of ‘Grey’ Divorce
Divorce rates have increased for people older than 50; between 1990 and 2012, the divorce rate tripled among people older than 65. When divorce occurs before or during retirement, it can disrupt retirement planning and trigger a wide range of financial issues.
Private and public pension plans and individual retirement accounts accumulated during the marriage are considered marital property, and their distribution is defined through a court-issued Qualified Domestic Relations Order.
If each spouse is age 62 or older, a couple may decide that a reverse mortgage is the best way to divide the value of their marital home. With a reverse mortgage, one partner stays in the home and pays equity to the other partner, and the mortgage does not enter repayment until the spouse occupying the home moves out or dies.
A Trusted Advocate
The divorce attorneys at Thienel & Lusk, LLC, will help protect your varied property interests during a divorce and, if children are involved, ensure that any outcome is the best for you and your children’s happiness and health. Contact us today online or by phone to request a consultation: (443) 535-9715.
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